Cardinal Jose Gregorio Rosa Chavez of El Salvador will visit Nassau and Suffolk next weekend and make a series of appearances in both counties, representatives for Roman Catholic Diocese of Rockville Centre said Thursday.
Rosa Chavez is the first cardinal appointed from the Central American country, which is the homeland of at least 100,000 immigrants on Long Island — one of the largest concentrations in the United States. It is also the home of the violent street gang MS-13, which Long Island authorities have blamed for a series of killings including multiple homicides in Brentwood and Central Islip that stunned even seasoned Suffolk homicide investigators because of their brutal nature.
Bishop John Barres, head of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, said he invited Rosa Chavez to Long Island to celebrate the cardinal’s historic elevation to a seat among the powerful Vatican prelates. Barres also hopes the visit will provide some solace to Long Island’s Salvadoran and Latino communities, which have been shaken by the killings as well as an immigration crack down.
The visit is “huge,” Barres said. “Think of the power of this . . . what we’ve been through here.” Barres, named earlier this year as the leader of Long Island’s 1.5 million Catholics, has set outreach to the diocese’s immigrant communities and establishing anti-gang programs as priorities.
Starting next Friday, Cardinal Rosa Chavez’s tour will take him to such disparate locations as the Nassau County Jail, Kellenberg Memorial High School and a number of parish churches including one in Brentwood.
The diocese released these highlights of the cardinal’s schedule:
- An Aug. 18 pastoral visit to the Catholic Charities Immigration Center in Amityville, set to begin at 3 p.m.
- A pastoral visit on Aug. 19 to the Nassau County lockup in East Meadow. Later that day, he will be at St. John the Baptist High School in West Islip, where there will be a welcoming ceremony and talk at 1 p.m., followed by a 2 p.m. Mass.
- On Aug. 20, he will visit St. Anne Parish in Brentwood, where he will again celebrate Mass, beginning at 7:30 p.m.
- On Aug. 21, he will be at Our Lady of Loretto Parish in Hempstead for a 9 a.m. Mass and then head to Kellenberg Memorial High School in Uniondale, where he will address attendees and celebrate a Mass that begins at 2 p.m.